Celibates and Other Lovers

Walter Keady, Author MacAdam/Cage Publishing $20 (240p) ISBN 978-1-878448-77-4
Phelim O'Brien, the adolescent hero of this warm first novel, is a handsome, smart popular football player in love with a girl who loves him back. He's also (like many a young Irishman before him) ""obsessed with a morbid terror of hell. And... tormented by the near certainty that he would wind up in it."" The trouble is women, and Phelim's response to them. ""The flesh, you see, that he could not control, goaded by an imagination that, despite his level best attempts, would not stay away from girls and their forbidden parts"" leads poor Phelim, at the tender age of 16, to the sad conclusion ""that the priesthood was his only salvation."" The cassock may keep Phelim temporarily out of carnal trouble, but it doesn't keep him from the everyday misadventures of life in the rural West of Ireland in the late 1940s and '50s. Blood rivalry, class hatred, bigotry and ignorance are very much in evidence in his small country village of Creevagh. At the same time, Keady dwells on the generosity and earthiness that fuel the survival and the spirit of Phelim's people. His affection for these characters--in combination with lively, funny dialogue, a sympathetic hero and the often hilarious capers perpetrated by his comrades--lend this debut a great deal of charm. Himself a former priest and now an IBM retiree living in the U.S., Keady will leave readers of Irish fiction eager for a sequel. BOMC and QPB selections; paperback rights to Harcourt Brace. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-15-600571-5
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